Despite the good news about vaccines the emergence of a new more infectious strain of the virus is worrying. With the new countrywide restrictions it is still in theory possible to see people face to face for counselling (only if this is essential to prevent risk of serious harm) I think it's not advisable for now.
I'm happy to discuss this further if needed.It has been interesting using Zoom,Skype etc and more telephone sessions, it seems that it helps to ask what works best for each person, eg some people prefer the telephone as offers more "distance" and can feel safer to discuss very painful issues.
The disruption and cancelling of plans for January/February is obviously very upsetting and painful for many people, however it's worth remembering that not everyone looks forward to spending time with family and this is also hard to acknowledge or talk about. I'm probably more aware of these difficult family dynamics for some as they are often part of what people need to talk about.
It has been interesting using Zoom,Skype etc and more telephone sessions, it seems that it helps to ask what works best for each person, eg some people prefer the telephone as offers more "distance" and can feel safer to discuss very painful issues.
The internet is as usual proving a mixed blessing, so much information, what to believe? this situation really increases our tendency to be black and white in our thinking, from "we're all going to die" to "what's all the fuss about". This tends to increase anxiety as we swing wildly from one to the other. As with most things trying to keep a balanced view is probably most helpful, an area where our thinking brain may be more useful than our feelings. It's also worth remembering that it's not easy to spend lots more time together with family unexpectedly and in a stressful situation, so try to make allowances!
I usually charge £40 for one hour whether for an individual or couples. I am happy to charge the same for two people as I don't see it as twice the work.I can also offer longer appointments if this would be easier as sometimes an hour can feel too short. Although weekly sessions are often most helpful I'm happy to discuss how often you would like have sessions, doesn't have to be the same time same day every week. I'm happy to discuss reduced charges if you are affected financially by the current situation.
I have worked as a Counsellor in Surrey and Sussex, at Residential and Nursing Homes in Surrey, at Hospices,at a centre for the homeless and at Redhill Counselling Centre. I have provided psychotherapy in East Sussex for people with alcohol addiction, in the NHS, for an organisation that helps carers in East Sussex and as a Samaritan in South London. I previously worked in the music industry, recruitment and at a local animal sanctuary.
I often think about what people are troubled by and whether there are useful similarities that help to decide how best to help. This is probably what led to the many and varied forms of counselling and therapy that exist today. Of course this can be very helpful and has led to many brilliant ideas and discoveries, but there is also a risk that we assume what helps one person will obviously help another with “the same” problem,
This is the same thing that seems to in reality cause many of our problems ie making “logical assumptions” and rarely revisiting something we have decided we know to be true. This could be an idea, a way of behaving or thinking. If we are able to look at these beliefs and wonder whether we got that right after all this can be very helpful, counselling can help us to do this. However it’s not easy and can involve admitting we got something a bit wrong,
One issues that seems to re occur is how we think about ourselves, especially when we have “low self esteem” which we are usually very good at hiding, from others and also ourselves. Unfortunately if we don’t find a way of repairing this we might well find ourselves in all kinds of trouble which also makes it much harder to get to the cause of the problems. It’s much easier to blame others, (and of course sometimes we’re right) than to look at ourselves and what we get up to. The more we behave in ways we really know to be “bad” the more we damage our view of ourselves, and so we continue.
So it’s not easy and it’s important to have some help and support to avoid damaging self esteem even further by facing these things (ie ourselves!) Hopefully finding the right Counsellor would provide the help and support to be able to do this.
Of course Counselling can also be just someone to talk to who will just listen without interrupting or telling you about their stuff, good or bad, which is why it can be so helpful and different to talking to a friend or family member however sympathetic they might be.
Sometimes the things we have learned which we think are very useful are actually what can trip us up the most, we all make assumptions based on past experiences, I often think that helping people involves unlearning or reframing difficult past stuff rather than learning exciting new techniques and clever ideas. As well as our past experiences, the current uncertainty and conflicts around Europe and our future seem to be contributing to a national feeling of anxiety.
I often work with couples to try to help understand what is causing any difficulties in their relationship, again this is often connected to past experiences being replayed in some way. Sometimes people feel they are in a battle with their partner rather than being on the same side! It usually helps to try to look at what is happening when the "heat" is off, and this is often easier with a third, neutral person present, a bit like a referee! Humour can also be very useful to defuse volatile situations. We are often attracted to people who are different to us, e.g. a "planner" who has difficulty acting spontaneously has a partner who is impulsive and likes to wake up and go away for the weekend! If they can balance each other and see the value in the other way this can be great, if not there is likely to be conflict. It can help to avoid thinking of right or wrong, just different.
There is so much uncertainty and change around whether in the world of politics or economics, with distressing events happening with depressing frequency. The political situation does not provide much certainty or stability, whatever your political beliefs. In the US It seems Mr Trump the expert salesman has done a very good job of selling himself to the American people. These huge events, like our own Brexit, also have an effect on our personal relationships and interactions with each other.
Although counselling and therapy are complex subjects which can be explored in great depth, there are also some quite simple ideas which can help, for example experience is often seen as a purely useful thing which helps us make good decisions, but sometimes using our instinct or gut reactions can also be very helpful. So how do we get the best out of these seemingly contradicting abilities we all have? We need thinking and feeling to work together in balance to help us live and work in harmony with the world and those around us. Although we rightly see experience as something useful, sometimes what we "learn" can lead us to make assumptions about people or ourselves that are wrong. For example, "I always meet people that let me down" - these things can become a self-fulfilling prophecy and we are in danger of sabotaging ourselves.
Often it’s the conflicting emotions that we find the most difficult to cope with; it can seem more comfortable to decide we either love or hate something or someone rather than deal with the upsetting changes in our feelings about the world and the people that we care about.
Counselling can be seen as a way of holding up a mirror in front of you but instead of reflecting your physical appearance, you can see yourself as others see you behaving and reacting to them. In a way this is the most important thing we try to learn and do as counsellors, to try to feed this back in a helpful and sympathetic way. I often see people who don't love or even like themselves very much, though this is so painful that it's often very hidden, and usually comes from difficult experiences when young.
It seems that anxiety is becoming a problem for more and more people, not helped by being still a more "hidden" issue than say depression, making it harder to talk about. There is more about anxiety on the anxiety page of my website.
It can sometimes feel that moving to a new town or even different country will solve our problems - described recently by Dr John Cooper Clarke as "doing a geographical" - however he also said the problem is you have to take yourself with you! It may be better to look at ourselves first or as well as our surroundings, which of course may need to be also addressed.
I have helped people struggling with many different feelings and situations they find themselves in, especially when they lead to anxiety, depression, panic attacks, or problems with the various ways we try to distract ourselves from our problems which can then feel like the problem itself. This could be unhealthy use of alcohol, drugs, binging on food or shopping, gambling, sex etc. We often avoid thinking about painful events or feelings from the past, either consciously or without realising it, as we want to protect ourselves and avoid pain, but sometimes this can cause problems with our relationships which can be significantly helped by revisiting some of these past experiences in a safe supported way.
People usually find that however difficult and painful this might seem it is very useful, partly because talking about our fears and insecurities makes them real and what is real is always less frightening than what we can imagine might happen. However, dwelling too much on the past can be unhelpful, and is often why people are wary about counselling. It seems that putting these painful things into perspective is what helps, acknowledging the pain and experience, accepting it is in the past allows you to move forward in a more positive contented way.
Training, qualifications & experience
I have a Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling, and am a member of the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP), BSC in anthropology, and hold a current DBS (formally CRB) check. I am fully insured for working as a counsellor.
I have worked with hundreds of people, individuals and couples, to try to help them work out what is causing them difficulties and what they can do to change things for the better. Although there are often common themes and causes to our difficulties I have found it best to avoid making assumptions about this when I meet new people; sometimes similar personality traits develop for very different reasons.
British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy
BACP is one of the UK’s largest professional bodies for counselling and psychotherapy. Therapists registered with the Association fall into a number of different membership categories such as Individual Member, Registered Member MBACP and Registered Member MBACP (Accred), each standing for different levels of training and experience. MBACP (Accred) and MBACP (Snr Accred) members have achieved a substantial level of training and experience approved by the Association.
Registered members can be found on the BACP Register, which was the first register to achieve Accredited Voluntary Register status issued by the Professional Standards Authority. Individual Members will have completed an appropriate counselling and/or psychotherapy course and started to practise, but will not appear on the BACP Register until they've progressed to Registered Member MBACP status.
All members are bound by a Code of Ethics & Practice and a Complaints Procedure. Accredited by the Professional Standards Authority.
Accredited register membership
Accredited Register Scheme
The Accredited Register Scheme was set up in 2013 by the Department of Health (DoH) as a way to recognise organisations that hold voluntary registers which meet certain standards. These standards are set by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA).
This therapist has indicated that they belong to an Accredited Register.
Areas of counselling I deal with
Our first meeting costs £20 and will last 60-80 minutes. This should give both of us time to decide whether we would like to continue. The charge for subsequent one hour sessions is £40, whether for individuals or couples. I don't feel the need to charge more for couples as I don't see it as twice the work for me. I am happy to discuss longer appointments if you have a difficult journey, or if an hour feels too short.